PDE Initiates Women Empowerment Process

Panama JCLatin American buyers, till recently had to travel to the US or Europe to source polished diamonds for catering to the USD 8 billion Latin American diamond jewellery market. But inception of The World Jewelry Hub (WJH), Latin America’s first dedicated diamond, colored gemstone and jewellery trading center has changed the Panama Diamond Industry. The USD 200 million WJH complex incorporates Panama Diamond Exchange (PDE) which is first and the only Latin American member of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB). PDE is a constituent of the global network comprised of 29 diamond bourses operating in 21 countries.

Now Senior Vice President of PDE and Vice President of WJH Ms. Ali Pastorini and Vice President of PDE Ms. Judy Meana have taken an initiative to encourage Latin America’s women enthusiasts to enhance their role in the region’s jewellery industry. The role and empowerment of women in the Latin American jewellery industry will be the focus of a special meeting that will take place on the trading floor of the PDE during the Second Latin American Diamond and Jewellery Week, at the WJH in Panama City from 21st to 23rd June, 2016.

Ali Pastorini
Ali Pastorini

Speaking exclusively to G2J, Ms. Ali Pastorini said, “The Latin American Diamond and Jewelry Week is essentially a networking and trading event, which brings to together both buyers and suppliers from across Latin America and internationally at the World Jewelry Hub in Panama City. It is not a trade fair in the strict sense, with elaborate booths and displays. But It rather uses the existing infrastructure of the bourse in a way that is similar to the buyers’ weeks that we have seen in recent years in Israel and New York.”

“But it is more than just that, because the LATAM Diamond & Jewelry Week is an extension of the overriding mission of the World Jewelry Hub, and that is serving as the central gathering point for the diamond, colored gemstone, jewelry and associated trades in all of Latin America, and also as bridge between the region and the world. The constellation of participants at the event is unique, and it underscores the potential of the market in the region and what we are doing in Panama,” she added.

Ali said, “The fact that we will have a greater number of industry participants with us in Panama for a concentrated period of time makes it the ideal opportunity to launch our Women’s Empowerment Initiative. It certainly will be a feature of future LATAM Diamond & Jewelry Weeks, but ideally, in this respect, we will also be able to hold additional meetings during the course of the year.”

Replying to a question, what type of support would you lend to women entrepreneurs?, Ali said, “It should be recognized that the reason that women have traditionally not played an equal role in our business has little or nothing to do with their innate ability or acumen, but rather with the traditional structure which favored advancing men in more responsible roles.  There is no specific reason why women cannot do any job in our business, but the fact that they have left aside has led to a series of preconceived notions, among women and well as men, and a skill set that is lacking, simply because they were not provided the same opportunities to advance like their male counterparts.”

“To remedy the situation, we have to tackle both problems. We need to provide women with the confidence that they do anything they choose, and the motivation to make that leap forward. We also need to provide them with some the skills they may not have, and for which the lack thereof is limiting their progress.

In practical terms we are planning a series of seminars and educational courses, geared for women, to improve their knowledge base and increase their professional opportunities. These will kick off during the second half of the year.

We also will lobby on their behalf. In Panama we will speak directly to the authorities about what can be done to incentivize women to not only join the workforce, but to set up their own business and become entrepreneurs.

We also will provide exposure in the region to our Women’s Empowerment Initiative, providing regular coverage in our Latin American newsletter, which already has more than 2,000 readers.

We are also looking at role models, and in particular the Women’s Jewelry Association (WJA) in the United States, which has broken a great deal of ground in these various areas and from which we can learn a great deal. WJA has expanded internationally, recently setting up an Italian chapter. We would like to discuss with it the possibility of setting up a Latin American section,” she added.

Ali further mentioned, “Given our location and common language there clearly is a Latin American focus. But the problems we face as women are common and frequently solutions are universal, so we would welcome participants from all over the world.”

“More than that, there are women jewelers in other countries and regions that have been very successful in breaking glass ceilings and we would be delighted if they the share in their experience and to learn from them. We also would like the Women’s Empowerment Initiative to provide networking opportunities, and so expand the circle of success.”

“While ultimately the accomplishments of our venture will be judged by the efforts and achievements of the women who participate, the World Jewelry Hub and Panama Diamond Exchange will serve as catalyzers, as well as provide structure and logistics. As equal opportunity organizations women play key roles in both our bodies, and we see the project as part of a larger program for a more ethical, transparent and socially responsible jewelry business.”

judy meana
Judy Meana

Judy Meana is a communications specialist, having started out as a journalist and becoming one of Panama’s most well-known television news anchors, and later serving as the spokesperson for the Panamanian President and Government. She then joined the private sector, eventually taking up a senior position at the Panama Diamond Exchange.

“In organizing this meeting during the Second Latin American Diamond and Jewelry Week we plan to do a lot more than just pay lip service to the subject,” Ms. Meana said. “We want this to be a first step in developing a concrete strategy for raising the involvement of women in our industry, along with an action timetable.”

“We already have an educational program, including courses and seminars in Spanish,” Ms. Meana continued. “We want to provide Latin American women access to a knowledge base that will help them grow professionally and develop technical skills, including Corporate Social Responsibility. Networking also is critical, for together we will be significantly strengthened. We want successful women to be able to look back to this meeting in June, and say it was a milestone in their journey.”

The Second Latin American Diamond and Jewelry Week will be commercial and networking event that is specifically designed to bring together players from both the regional and global trades, the week will also spotlight the growing role of Panama in the jewelry and gemstone business, and will feature a social and educational program that looks at challenges and opportunities facing the industry.

To obtain more information about participating in the Women in the Latin American Jewelry Industry event, as well as the Second Latin American Week Diamond and Jewelry please send an email to info@pde.com.pa.

Posted by Suresh Chotai